February 22, 2022 Ukraine-Russia crisis news

By Maureen Chowdhury, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Rob Picheta and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, February 23, 2022
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5:45 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

"Hit Russia's economy now and hit it hard," Ukrainian foreign minister says

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel and Sharon Braithwaite

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba meets with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba meets with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the world Tuesday to “hit” the Russian economy “hard” for its "new act of aggression against Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“The world must respond with all its economic might to punish Russia for the crimes it has already committed, and ahead of the crimes it plans to commit," Kuleba said while speaking alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press conference in Washington. "Hit Russia's economy now and hit it hard," he added.

While welcoming the latest US sanctions against Russia, Kuleba added that “Ukraine strongly believes the time for sanctions is now.”

“We are at a critical juncture for the security of Europe, as well as the international peace and security more broadly,” he continued.  

On the topic of Moscow recognizing the independence of two pro-Russian separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, Kuleba said his country “does not and will never recognize this absurdity.”

Kuleba argued that what Putin “recognized is his direct responsibility for the war against Ukraine and an unprovoked and unjustified war on another sovereign state in Europe, which Russia now intensifies.”

Kuleba went on to blame Putin for “attacking the world order" with his latest actions.

5:44 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minster: Diplomacy is "Plan A" but if that fails, we will "fight for every inch of our land"

From CNN's From Jennifer Hansler

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday that his nation has two plans: diplomacy, and if that fails, fighting to defend themselves.

“Plan A is to utilize every tool of diplomacy to deter Russia and prevent further escalation,” Kuleba said at a news conference alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the US State Department.

"And if that fails, plan B is to fight for every inch of our land, in every city and every village – to fight until we win, of course,” he said.

Kuleba said Ukraine has no plans to evacuate Mariupol and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.

5:29 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

US Secretary of State Blinken calls off meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he called off his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The leaders were set to meet Thursday.

"Last week, I agreed to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week, on Feb. 24, to discuss our country's respective concerns about European security. But only if Russia did not invade Ukraine. Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy, it does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time. I consulted with our allies and partners. All agree. Today I sent Foreign Minister Lavrov a letter informing him of this," Blinken said during a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Blinken’s announcement comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two pro-Moscow separatist regions in Ukraine as independent and announced he would deploy “peacekeeping” forces there.

US President Joe Biden and top US officials down said Tuesday that Putin’s moves marked the beginning of a new Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Biden announced a first tranche of sanctions in response.

Blinken said the US "remain committed to diplomacy if Russia is prepared to take demonstrable steps to provide the international community any degree of confidence that it's serious about de-escalating and finding a diplomatic solution."

The official noted that the US will proceed in coordination with its allies and partners "based on Russia's actions and the facts on the ground."

"But we will not allow Russia to claim the pretense of diplomacy at the same time it accelerates its march down the path of conflict and war," he continued.

More background: Now that their meeting is off, the cancellation signals that the Biden administration no longer believes that Russia is at all serious about pursuing diplomacy. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also announced his meeting with Lavrov, that had been scheduled for Friday, was no longer occurring. 

CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Jeremy Herb contributed reporting to this post.

Watch U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken explain why he canceled his meeting with the Russian foreign minister:

7:29 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

New Russia sanctions were "quite deliberate" to minimize disruption of US energy prices, official says

From CNN's DJ Judd

The Biden administration is focused on minimizing effects on domestic oil markets following a tranche of sanctions against Russia were announced Tuesday, with one senior administration official telling reporters the White House was “quite deliberate” in ensuring “the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours.”

“None of the measures are designed to disrupt the flow of energy to global markets, and we are now executing a plan, in coordination with major oil consumers and oil producers, towards our collective interest to secure the stability of global energy supplies,” the official told reporters on a briefing call.

Biden acknowledged Americans might see rising costs at the pump in remarks earlier Tuesday, pledging his administration was using “every tool at our disposal” to prevent rising prices.

The official also pointed to the decision, overnight, to halt production of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which they called “Putin’s prized pipeline,” as evidence of emblematic of the severe cost to the Russian economy Monday’s actions provoked. 

“[Putin] poured $11 billion into building the pipeline. It would have provided billions of dollars each year in revenues,” the official said. “That is now shut down, after very close consultations overnight with Germany.”

Still, the administration says, rising gas prices are not the direct result of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline decision, but over fears Putin might weaponize energy supply to “hold the world hostage.”

The official added that today’s decision serves to “reduce Europe's addiction to Russian gas,” adding that the US will work in concert with allies to surge national gas supplies from other sources in an effort to address shortages.

4:36 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Ukraine's president: Reservists will be called up but there won't be a general mobilization of armed forces

From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine announced Tuesday that reservists would be called up for military training but said there would be no general mobilization of the armed forces, following Russia's recognition of areas in eastern Ukraine held by separatists as independent states.

In a national address, Zelensky said he was still pursuing diplomacy as a way out of the crisis, and welcomed the offer by Turkey to broker talks between Ukraine and Russia. He also called for a summit of all permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Germany and Turkey. 

Zelensky also referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that the Minsk Agreements designed to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine no longer applied, saying that Ukraine remained committed to seeking its sovereignty and integrity.

Zelensky welcomed the sanctions announced by western governments against Russia and referenced German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's decision to suspend certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would bring Russian liquid natural gas to Germany and other European markets. 

Zelensky also announced what he called a program of economic patriotism that would include reducing sales tax on gasoline and incentives for investment. He acknowledged that the crisis had caused economic contraction and said the government's goal was to ensure the country's economic independence, especially in the energy sector. The president said he would meet 150 major Ukrainian businesses on Wednesday to persuade them to stay in Ukraine.

He ended his address by saying, "We desire peace and calm but if we are quiet today then tomorrow we will disappear."

 

4:27 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Oil prices near $100 per barrel and stocks slide as Putin orders troops into Ukraine

From CNN's Laura He and Rob McLean

Global stock markets tumbled and crude oil prices surged to $99 per barrel on Tuesday after Russia ordered troops into parts of eastern Ukraine.

Wall Street also fell as traders returned from the holiday weekend, but stocks finished off their lows of the day.

The Dow briefly dropped more than 700 points, or 2%, in late afternoon trading before recovering to close down nearly 483 points, or 1.4%. 

The S&P 500 finished the day 1% lower, while the Nasdaq shed 1.2%.

See where the price of oil stands in the chart below:

7:29 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

US sanctions announced today only "sharp edge of the pain we can inflict," administration official says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

The sanctions President Biden announced Tuesday amount to "only the sharp edge of the pain we can inflict," a senior US administration official said, suggesting the President is ready to go much further should an invasion of Ukraine escalate. 

"This is the beginning of an invasion, and therefore this is the beginning of our response," the official said, insisting the package the US unveiled did amount to harsh punishment for Vladimir Putin's actions but did not reflect the full extent of the steps the US is willing to take.

"If Putin escalates further, we will escalate further using both financial sanctions and export controls, which we have yet to unveil," the official said.

Keeping the toughest sanctions in reserve is meant to potentially deter the bloody and large-scale attack on Ukraine that US officials have been predicting for several weeks.

"Sanctions are meant to serve a higher purpose, which is to deter and prevent, so we want to prevent a large scale invasion of Ukraine that involves the seizure of major cities, including Kyiv," the official said.

"We want to prevent large scale human suffering, possibly tens of thousands of lives that could be lost in a full scale conflict. And we want to prevent Putin from installing a puppet government that bends to his wishes and denies Ukraine the freedom to set its own course and choose its own destiny. That's what this is all about," the official continued.

More on the sanctions: The official said the blocking sanctions Biden announced on two Russian financial institutions meant they wouldn't be able to make transactions with the United States or Europe. The banks amount to a glorified piggy bank for the Kremlin," the official said.

The official listed three Russian elites who also are coming under sanctions (names to come soon) and said they would "share in the pain" inflicted on the Russian government.

"Other Russian elites and their family members are now on notice that additional actions could be taken on them as well," the official said.

The official listed three Russian elites who also are coming under sanctions and said they would "share in the pain" inflicted on the Russian government. They are Sergey Kiriyenko, the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia, and his son Vladimir; Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), and his son Dennis; and Petr Fradkov, CEO of Promsvyazbank.

"Other Russian elites and their family members are now on notice that additional actions could be taken on them as well," the official said.

4:09 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Hungarian defense minister says the country will deploy troops near its border with Ukraine

From CNN's Amy Cassidy

Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benko announced Tuesday that Hungary will deploy troops to its eastern border with Ukraine, for both humanitarian tasks and border protection, in response to Ukraine’s escalating crisis with Russia.

“We must prepare for every eventuality in the region by the eastern border, including humanitarian tasks and border protection,” Benko told reporters, according to the Hungarian government press office.

“Therefore, we are regrouping army personnel and military equipment to the eastern region of the country,” Benko added.

Benko went on to stress that "Hungary wants peace" and supports a diplomatic resolution.  

Additionally, Benko said that Hungarian troops will also prepare for the arrival of refugees in anticipation of the situation in Ukraine escalating even more and expanding outside the East.

More background: Though Hungary is a member of NATO, Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin remain allies and share a disdain for the Ukrainian government.  

Despite relations being “burdened with tensions [...] Hungary has always expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Tuesday before meeting his EU counterparts in Brussels, according to a government press release.

4:13 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022

US will move F-35s fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters to Baltics and Eastern Europe 

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxis to an aircraft shelter on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany,on February 16. 
A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxis to an aircraft shelter on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany,on February 16.  (Tech. Sgt. Maeson L. Elleman/U.S. Airforce)

The US will move F-35 fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters already in Europe to the Baltic states and NATO’s eastern flank, according to a senior defense official, following US President Joe Biden’s announcement that the administration will bolster the defenses of NATO allies.

In addition, approximately 800 troops constituting an infantry battalion task force will move from Italy to the Baltic region, the official said. 

Four F-35 fighter jets from Germany will deploy to the Baltic states, while another four will deploy to NATO’s southeastern flank. Twenty Apache helicopters from Germany will head for the Baltic states, and another 12 Apaches from Greece deploy to Poland. 

These forces are expected to be in place later this week, the official said. Biden said earlier Tuesday that he wanted to be “clear” that these are “totally defensive moves on our part.”

The US has approximately 90,000 troops in Europe on permanent and rotational orders.